Well, spring has finally settled in, and summer is just around the corner. The last vestiges of winter hung around longer than we’ve grown accustomed to, as just a short month ago we saw the last of the snow fly. Our neighbourhood is about to put on its dazzling display of flora and fauna. Our glorious oak trees are unravelling to reveal their towering majesty, and our urban forest and sea of greenery that we live beneath, within and surrounded by will once again be truly exceptional.
It really feels that the Beach real estate market reflects the weather we’ve witnessed over the last month: hot and sunny … cool and rainy … looks like rain then suddenly sunny. Certainly some of the swagger and seeming invincibility that had been indicative of the Beach market over the last few years has been lost. The rumours of its demise are overheard, but overstated.
What we’re seeing in this Beach spring real estate market is simply the by-product of several factors that have been gently at work for some time, and are only now pushing through to the surface. This isn’t the forum to debate the myriad of economic forces at play. But the reality is that many buyers are just more cautious, and relaxed, than they might have been even two months ago. They’re just having a longer look before they leap, as they survey the situation, only to see that indeed they have choices. Instead of too many Beach buyers hunting too few Beach homes, now more homes are hunting those buyers. It’s called balance.
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the market is cooling somewhat. It has to take time to breathe in order to be sustained and thrive. Yes, there are more homes available than what we’ve become accustomed to, and many ‘for sale’ signs are lingering longer than what had become the perception as normal in the Beach. But the wild market we became used to just wasn’t a normal one. Beach real estate has become complacent; lazy even. In today’s adjusting and fluctuating market, Beach homes are going to have to bring real value to the buyer’s table – surely something much more than what the previous hectic market has become accustomed to, anyway. And that’s what has started to happen.
Yes, there are still the notorious bidding wars and multiple offers taking place, largely (but not necessarily exclusively) between first-time buyers in Beach homes priced below $700,000. Yet the difference between now and a year or two ago is that, instead of five offers on a home purposely priced low to garner such attention, there may only be two or three buyers willing to step up. Will those buyers move the price up to where it should be, or should have been in the first place? Maybe. But with the market harder to peg down than just a couple months ago, the answer could easily be maybe not.
On another note, I imagine that most people who cruise Realtor.ca realize that they are not really viewing the same MLS (Multiple Listing Service) that your favourite real estate agent is looking at, and working on daily. But if you didn’t know that, well, the truth is, you’re really just surfing a great big advertisement site, paid for and sponsored by local real estate boards such as the Toronto Real Estate Board and produced and maintained by the Canadian Real Estate Board for public consumption. Yep, we got you! You’re dutifully soaking up real estate agent propaganda, when you may have believed you were just cruising for a house, without the assistance of those darn bothersome agents. No need to hire an agent, I’m on the MLS!
All kidding aside, what you’re looking at when you go to Realtor.ca is only a tiny piece of the entire MLS service that agents have access to. The MLS that agents use is a private member to member (agent to agent) service, employing the latest technology and up-to-the-minute market data. Yes, most homes listed by brokerages (but not all) are uploaded automatically to Realtor.ca for public viewing. But there’s much, much more to the real MLS than what you’re seeing. You only see available homes that agents allow you to see, and only approximately 24 to 48 hours after the house actually hits the market. By the time you see it, the house could already be sold. What’s more, you only see part of the actual data for the house. Some of the most important information about the house is held back from the public, often for privacy reasons. Realtor.ca is a fabulous tool for agents to advertise their listings. And that’s it. Cheap, but effective advertising for agents.
If you have any questions about this column, or about Beach real estate in general, please feel free to call me at 416-690-5100, or drop me an email at email@example.com.
Thomas Neal is a well-known and respected local Beach agent
Real Estate… Beach Wise